Monday, 17 June, Van Gogh writ large at the Atelier des Lumières; Violon d'Ingres by wayward bus

Written 23 June 2019

Today's project was to go back to the Atelier des Lumières for this year's show, which featured Van Gogh and "Dreams of Japan." The Atelier's website recommended the hours of noon to 2 p.m. as the least crowded, so I prepurchased timed-entry tickets for noon. On the day, I skipped breakfast, and we set off early so as to get there, find a place to eat and have brunch before going to the Atelier.

We took the metro all the way to Père Lachaise, an area we know pretty well, as Françoise's appartment is nearby, and an area I knew to be uphill from the Atelier. I had a couple of possible lunch venues picked out from studying Google maps, but as we emerged from the metro station, we were delighted to find that Au Rond Point was still there. It didn't show up on my maps, presumably because it's doing just fine, thank you, and can't be bothered to do the paperwork to register with Google. It's a lovely old brasserie with art nouveau decor that has fed us many a great lunch.

DT salad It was a little before 11 a.m., but they said, sure, we could order salads. So we both ordered the this version, with three toasts, each topped with a grilled slice of goat cheese, slices of fried Canadian bacon, and a poached egg and drizzled with balsamic syrup. We scarfed them down and ordered dessert.


fromage blanc tiramisu David had fromage blanc with red fruit coulis. I ordered the "strawberry tiramisu," which as promised contained no coffee, just strawberries, fruit coulis, and the creamy mascarpone mixture. A few broken cookies were stirred in to represent the ladyfingers. Scrumptious.

Gaugin Gaugin After lunch, we strolled (downhill as planned) to the Atelier.

The main show was of van Gogh, but a second part, almost as long, was called "Dream of Japan," and a short feature was called "Verse" (as in universe, not as in poetry). I was not as mesmerized as I was last year by the Klimt feature, but it was still wonderful and very instructive. We got there a little before 12 noon and entered to almost total darkness—a portion of Verse that was mostly black sky. As predicted, the place was less crowded, and we were able to grab seats on a bench almost immediately.

Gaugin Gaugin As in last year's show, elements of the artist's work came and went, moved and slid with respect to one another, actually moved in ways only suggested by the painting, and generally revealed similarities and differences among Gaugin's works.

As before, most of the show was set to classical music, but a couple of modern pieces were thrown in, including the opening one, a raucous sort of jazz piece that I didn't care for.


Gaugin Gaugin Since last year, they've made some changes to the space. This added a couple of canvas partitions that provide more projection space, and they have opened a door in the side of the large cylinder that rises in the middle of the space, and inside it, they seemed to be projecting images of the original works on which the animations were based on. We didn't go investigate, for fear of losing our places on the bench!






Gaugin Gaugin This isn't a very good shot of the irises—the images came and went so fast, it was hard to catch them.

The plum blossom theme appeared both in the van Gogh segment and again in the Dream of Japan. The second time the blossoms gradually dropped off and drifted away on a breeze.

Gaugin Gaugin I think the image at the left here is an early self-portrait, with clear Japanese influence. At the right is a much later self-portrait.






Gaugin Japan One last appearance of the cherry blossoms at the left before, at the right, the Japanese portion began with screens on which many overlapping Japanese fans opened in overlapping fashion.





Japan Japan In some of these shots, especially the (slightly out of focus) waves, you can get an idea of the scale of the images because you can see people along the left-hand edge of the photo, some standing on the floor and others on a platform about halfway up, reached by a metal stairway.

The waves heaved andsubsided, and occasionally the classic Japanese image of the huge breaking wave raised its head above the others.



Japan Japan School of fish swam by, but most were so fast that my photos are blurred. Heavenly bodies were projected on the ceiling. above.




Written 26 June 2019

Japan Japan Here we see the beginning and then the height of a flight of stylized Japanese lanterns floating upward.

Once we'd seen the whole thing through (I didn't make David sit through it all twice this time), we hiked back up to Père Lachaise and made our way home to rest up for dinner.

Dinner was at old friend Le Violon d'Ingres. When I looked on Google maps to see how long it might take us to get there, I was surprised to find that we could walk just three blocks to catch the #92 bus, which would drop us within a block of the restaurant. Great! Faster than the subway and much more scenic. So we suited up and headed out, with plenty of time in hand, for the intersection of Blvd. des Ternes and Ave. MacMahon. The #92 glided to the curb just as we arrived, so we hopped on and took seats.

I scanned the route map on the wall of the bus to verify our stop: Bosquet–St. Dominique, the intersection of the two streets of those names. But when the bus arrived at Alma-Marceau, the point at which it was supposed to cross the Alma bridge and continue on up the Ave. Bosquet, it instead turned left and paralleled the Seine! And continued to do so. I was brain-waving at the driver, "C'mon, cross a bridge. Any bridge! You claim you're headed for the Gare Montparnasse; how else are you gonna get there?!"

Finally, he crossed over (very, very slowly; traffic was such that we were on the bridge for almost 20 min) and drove up, not the Avenue Bosquet but the Boulevard de la Tour-Mauberg instead! I quickly pushed the "stop requested" button and managed to catch him in time to stop at that street's intersection with St. Dominique. Much farther from the restaurant, but we still have time to make there for our 8 p.m. reservation. Whew! I was afraid we would be bus-jacked all the way to the Gare Montparnasse and have to get an Uber ride back!

gougeres gazpacho Le Violon d'Ingres, though, never disappoints. They no longer serve fresh radishes, salt, and butter to every table as an amuse-bouche, but the food is still great and very reasonably priced for the quality. Here, at the left is the munch served with David's champagne, little Cmté gougères and toasted almonds, both flavored with piment d'Espelette.

At the right, the regular amuse-bouche, a layer of mozzarella and pine nuts in the bottom of the glass with a gazpacho of melon and basil flavored with Pernod on top. Even David scarfed it down, despite his antipathy to melon.

soup soup First course, cream of Tarbais beans over "caillé de brebis," sheep's-milk curds, and a little old sherry vinegar. Yummy.

At the right is the same thing, with some of the soup spooned out so you can see the curds.



asparagus foie gras Second course: white asparagus with carbonara sauce and a "perfect egg," that is, an egg cooked at very low temperature until it just holds together (typically 60 degrees C for an hour, in the shell). Decorated with bits of crisp dried meat, diced tomatoes, and some sort of tasty crispy crumbs.

Third course (a classic of the house): foie gras sautéed in a coating of gingerbread crumbs and topped with two baby carrots glazed with honey. More gingerbread crumbs on the side. Of course we're talking about "pain d'épices," literally "spice bread" but always translated "gingerbread"; keep in mind that it contains neither ginger nor spices, just flour, honey, and sometimes anise or orange flavoring. Great combination with the foie gras.

bar pigeon Fourth course: Bar (European sea bass) cooked under a crisp crust of almonds and dressed with piquillo peppers and curry oil. Under the fish was a bed of baby spinach wilted in hot curry oil.

Fifth course: Pigeon with an onion sauce and French style green peas. The peas appeared both in halves under the pigeon and as a bright-green purée.


Sixth course: Red fruit soup with hibiscus syrup. I think it was a basil sorbet.

Seventh course: Like a dunce, I forgot to photograph the famous chocolate tarte of Christian Constant (proprietor of this and several other restaurants). It looked, I assure you, just like a chocolate tart, a neat rectangular piece with a shiny chocolate mirror glaze on top and a thin cookie crust. Delicious.

On our way to the restaurant from the bus stop, we had to cross the Avenue Bosquet, and as we did, I saw a 92-bus go by on it, headed in the return direction, on the route it was supposed to be on, so we took a chance and waited at that stop, and sure enough, the bus came by and picked us up and took us home.

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